Upon the release of Netflix television series 13 Reasons Why in 2017, psychologists cautioned that the show could provoke teens to take their own lives, even though the show was trying to promote the opposite. A new National Institutes of Health study, NPR reports, suggests that those predictions were correct.
In the month after the show’s March 2017 debut, suicides among American teens children ages 10 to 17 saw a 28.9 percent uptick, according to the study published in the [Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry](https://www.jaacap.org/article/S0890-8567(19%2930288-6/fulltext) on Monday. The researchers wrote that the number of suicides in that month was greater than that in any other single month over the span of five years that the researchers analyzed. Moreover, 2017 saw 195 more teen suicides than projected based on historical trends.
While the results were very significant, the researchers acknowledged that another variable could have been responsible for the rise in teen suicides. Nonetheless, the strong correlation warranted caution against watching the series.
"The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media," said co-author Lisa Horowitz. “All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises."
The study’s lead author, Jeff Bridge, said to The Associated Press that further research revealed that the suicide rate in April of 2017 was higher than that of the earlier 19 years.
The creators of the series intentionally portrayed the suicide of the main character. It was a very graphic depiction of the suicide death," Bridge said, which can promote suicidal tendencies.
Their research revealed that boys were much more likely to commit suicide following the show’s release than girls. Suicide rate increase among girls was not statistically significant.
In response, a Netflix spokesperson said that the company had "just seen this study” and is “looking into the research.
"This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly," Netflix said, according to The Associated Press.